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The Home Test to Treat program, a virtual community-health initiative created by the federal government, has scaled up to offer free nationwide testing and treatment services for COVID-19 and influenza. Offering at-home rapid tests, telehealth sessions, and home-delivered medication, the program is a collaboration among three federal agencies. Uninsured adults or those enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, or the Indian Health Services can now enroll to receive free tests. Positive test results allow patients to continue on to access free telehealth and, if necessary, free prescribed medications with home delivery. Additionally, any adult with a current positive test for COVID-19 or flu, regardless of insurance status, can enroll for no-cost telehealth and prescribed medication with home delivery. This initiative marks the integration of widespread home testing and treatment for COVID-19 and flu within a public health program. 

Why it’s hard to compete: From early November through early December, urgent care visits increased nearly 10%, according to current data from Experity, and it’s not a stretch to presume respiratory illness season is the main driver of this recent uptick in visits. Meanwhile, the no-cost Home Test to Treat program prospectively puts the federal government in direct competition with urgent care during this busy season, says Alan Ayers, President of Experity Consulting and Practice Management Editor of JUCM. “Urgent care has historically been a seasonal business, with a strong flu season not only driving profitability for the year, but also driving repeat visits later in the year,” Ayers says. “When urgent care has overhead including rent, supplies and salaries, it’s hard to compete against ‘free.’”

Free Federal Program Competes With UC During Flu Season